12 Interesting and Fun Facts About Portugal

Updated on February 12, 2020
Global-Chica profile image

Anna resided in Lisbon, Portugal for two years, married a Lisbonite, and calls the picturesque city her second home (after NYC).

How much do you know about Europe's westernmost country?
How much do you know about Europe's westernmost country? | Source

Portugal is a fascinating country with a proud history that can be felt throughout each of its cities from its bustling capital right down to its tiny, picture-perfect villages. I've been living in Portugal for a few years now and have learned loads of fascinating facts about its culture and history.

Are you planning on visiting Europe's westernmost country soon? Do you have Portuguese roots and want to learn more about your ancestors and cultural heritage? Whatever the case may be, I hope you enjoy these 12 facts about Portugal and what makes it unique.

The Portuguese Empire was huge—its former territories are annotated in green on this map.
The Portuguese Empire was huge—its former territories are annotated in green on this map. | Source

1. Half of the "New World" Once Belonged to Portugal

In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed. This document essentially gave Portugal the eastern half of the "New World," including Brazil and parts of Africa and Asia. The Portuguese Empire was actually the first global empire in history. It was also one of the longest-lived colonial powers, lasting for almost six centuries from when Ceuta was captured in 1415 until Macau (now China) was handed-over in 1999.

In 1808, Dom João, the King of Portugal, moved to Brazil and proclaimed a single state that included Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves. The single state was called the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves and was effective from 1815-1822. The new capital of the kingdom was Rio de Janeiro. The kingdom was disestablished in 1822 after the king returned to Portugal in 1821, leaving his son, Prince Dom Pedro, to rule Brazil. In turn, the country soon declared independence from Portugal.

2. Portuguese Is the Official Language of Nine Countries

Over 236 million people worldwide are native Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea. Portuguese is also spoken in Goa (India), Macao, and East Timor.

3. Portugal Is the Oldest Country in Europe

Portugal has had the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe. Afonso Henriques was proclaimed the first King of Portugal in 1139, and the country remained a kingdom for almost 800 years thereafter until a successful 1910 revolution by the Portuguese Republican Party.

Lisbon's Bertrand bookstore has been around since 1732.
Lisbon's Bertrand bookstore has been around since 1732. | Source

4. The Oldest Bookstore in the World Is in Portugal's Capital

Bertrand bookstore, or Livraria Bertrand (pictured above at the corner), was established in 1732 and is located in Lisbon, Portugal's capital city. This makes it the oldest still-operational bookstore in the world. Moravian Bookshop, the next oldest, opened in Pennsylvania in 1745.

5. Portugal Is the Largest Cork Producer in the World

Portugal produces 70% of the world's cork exports. This makes sense, as the country also boasts the world's largest cork forest. The primary importers of Portuguese cork are Germany, the U.K., and the U.S.

University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in Europe.
University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in Europe. | Source

6. One of the Oldest Universities in Europe Is in Portugal

The University of Coimbra was established in 1290, making it one of the oldest universities on the European continent. The school now has over 20,000 students and has been named an official World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It was founded by King Dinis, a monarch remembered for his contributions to Portugal's literary and agricultural legacies.

Vasco da Gama Bridge was the longest in Europe until 2018.
Vasco da Gama Bridge was the longest in Europe until 2018. | Source

7. Portugal Has the Second-Longest Bridge in Europe

The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is 7.6 miles (12.3 kilometers) long. It was the longest in Europe for about 20 years until the Crimean Bridge was opened in Russia in 2018.

8. Portugal and England Have the Oldest Diplomatic Alliance in the World

The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was signed in 1373 and is still in force to this day. Both countries have entered wars to defend the other. Notable examples include the United Kingdom entering the Iberian Peninsular War and Portugal entering World War I. Talk about having someone's back!

Portugal is known for its long, surfable coast. This image shows a surfer riding a wave at Praia da Poça near Estoril, Portugal.
Portugal is known for its long, surfable coast. This image shows a surfer riding a wave at Praia da Poça near Estoril, Portugal. | Source

9. Portugal Is One of the World's Top Surf Spots

Portugal has a coastline that spans 497 miles (800 kilometers) and it's known to have 364 days of surf per year. This makes it a popular destination for surfers and beach-goers from all over the world.

10. Lisbon Was Hit by One of the Most Powerful Earthquakes in European History

On the 1st of November in 1755, Lisbon was struck by an approximately 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which was followed by a tsunami and fires that reduced much of the city to rubble. The earthquake struck on All Saints Day, a major holiday that involved churches being filled with burning candles. When the earthquake struck, many of these candles toppled and caused major fires. 275,000 residents were killed, and 85 percent of the city's buildings were destroyed. Locals talk about the devastating natural disaster to this day.

11. Portuguese Fado Music Is an Intangible Cultural Heritage

Fado (fate in Portuguese) is a genre of music that originated in urban Lisbon sometime before 1820. Fado is a mournful and heart-touching style of folk music typically sung by common people and passed down through generations orally. The musical genre was added to the World's Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2011 by UNESCO.

12. Portugal Was the First Colonial Power to Abolish Slavery

Despite having been heavily involved in the Atlantic Slave Trade, Portugal abolished slavery all the way back in 1761—that's half a century before Britain, France, Spain, or the United States.

Test Your Knowledge About Portugal!

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My Photos of Portugal

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is a photo I took of Bélem Tower, a limestone bastion built in Lisbon during the Portuguese Renaissance. This is a photo I took of the iconic Tram 28 in Lisbon.
This is a photo I took of Bélem Tower, a limestone bastion built in Lisbon during the Portuguese Renaissance.
This is a photo I took of Bélem Tower, a limestone bastion built in Lisbon during the Portuguese Renaissance. | Source
This is a photo I took of the iconic Tram 28 in Lisbon.
This is a photo I took of the iconic Tram 28 in Lisbon. | Source

Questions & Answers

  • Is Cristiano Ronald from Portugal?

    Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo is from Portugal. From the island of Madeira, to be exact.

  • What is the most amazing memento Portugal has to offer?

    There are many moments to choose from but if I had to pick one, I'd pick something made from cork like a handbag or shoes from an established company like Pelcor

  • Is Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal?

    Yes.

  • What is the currency of Portugal?

    The Euro.

  • Who is the king of Portugal?

    Portugal does not have a king. The monarchy ended about a century ago.

Comments

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    • profile image

      hi 

      4 weeks ago

      i learned alot

    • profile image

      Joao 

      3 months ago

      Thank you so much for making this article! It had tons of helpful information. I learned a lot from reading this.

    • profile image

      Your mom 

      4 months ago

      Americoa1 to the house is a?

    • profile image

      sixninethensnitchnine 

      6 months ago

      Me liek

    • Matilda Woods profile image

      Matilda Woods 

      6 months ago from Toronto

      Neat article! I love Portugal!

    • profile image

      pooper69 

      7 months ago

      i like the portugal cuz funny and a big empire and i i class r, ad learing portugal stuff, thaks for the help and wish you luck about this so bye kbow i gonna do somethig rn, bye guys gn a nd see you guys tommoroow

      BYE

    • profile image

      cool kid 

      8 months ago

      who would know that Portugal did not have a king very helpful

    • profile image

      cool girl 

      11 months ago

      Ronaldo is a football player

    • profile image

      reon hope 

      11 months ago

      go ronaldo big fan

    • profile image

      julie 

      11 months ago

      Thank you so much super helpful

    • profile image

      sarah 

      12 months ago

      i am 100 percent portugesse and proud

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      12 months ago

      Who is Christiano Ronaldo?

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      12 months ago

      San Valle is spanish

    • profile image

      Kitty 

      15 months ago

      Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously from Portugal

    • profile image

      jack 

      15 months ago

      this worked nice

    • Global-Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna 

      16 months ago from New York, NY

      Yes, Christiano Ronaldo is from Portugal. The island of Madeira to be exact!

    • profile image

      ebad 

      16 months ago

      Is Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal?

    • profile image

      BROTHER 

      17 months ago

      COOL STUFF BRO

    • profile image

      alex 

      18 months ago

      i like your comments

    • profile image

      FrankNation 

      18 months ago

      This is god Information

    • profile image

      me 

      18 months ago

      i have only been to Portugal once i now i know so much more about it this has also really helped with my geography project

      Thanksx

    • Global-Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna 

      22 months ago from New York, NY

      @Ally: bacalhau is a type of fish, cod to be exact. It's really popular in Portugal

    • profile image

      Ally 

      22 months ago

      Is Bacalhau a name?

    • profile image

      Zinhle Zuze 

      23 months ago

      This website is really helpful whilst doing school projects!!!!!!!

      THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Julieta pedro 

      23 months ago

      Really, really helpful

    • profile image

      jillie 

      23 months ago

      we have just done a full exam on my laptop for nothing and this was the greatest resource we have come across so far, so thanks:)!

    • profile image

      Emma 

      24 months ago

      I love this page but portugal isnt the oldest country in Europe its the 5th oldest

    • profile image

      jeff 

      2 years ago

      i have always wanted to know

    • profile image

      Elisio Alves 

      2 years ago

      Portugal is the safest and most friendly in the planet

    • profile image

      Sussy Maraca 

      2 years ago

      i got 100 the first time. ha! BEAT THAT!!!!!

    • profile image

      ana 

      2 years ago

      I'm doing a school project on portugal and I'm from brazil

    • profile image

      ola 

      2 years ago

      im portugees and im proud

    • profile image

      nevaeh 

      2 years ago

      im portugees and im proud

    • profile image

      sweghvftcfwnhs 

      2 years ago

      portugal is not the oldest country in europe it is one of the oldest countrys in europe

    • Adelerolsky profile image

      Adelerolsky 

      2 years ago from Bamberg Germany

      I have a correction to point 3. Our first King Afonso was not proclaimed King in 1139 according this article "Afonso Henriques was proclaimed the first King of Portugal in 1139" but it was in 1143 by the Treaty of Zamora.

      And I wanted to reply to someone about the slavery: Portuguese did not initiate slavery. The African sold their own kind to Portuguese. However I am very proud that Portuguese were the first to initiate the end of slavery.

    • profile image

      2 years ago

      I Anna the competition was splendid and this gave me a+ in my work also I'm portugese

    • profile image

      Alex 

      2 years ago

      The quiz was easy and I got 100%

    • profile image

      kara 

      2 years ago

      the quiz was hard

    • profile image

      Emily 

      2 years ago

      Hey Anna! This was such a great article! I used it as a resource for an article I'm writing about Portugal for my own site. I included a link back to your site so hopefully you get some more exposure here, too! Thanks for the great info and a fun article to read!!

    • profile image

      Beatriz 

      2 years ago

      I'm portuguese! And one thing that everyone usually reminds of us is that we are very caring people

    • profile image

      amrendra singh 

      3 years ago

      i heard about portugal and i get enroll in portugal college hopefully it will be a great journey for my life

    • profile image

      marquis 

      3 years ago

      portugal is a very good good place to live

    • profile image

      David 

      3 years ago

      Awesome List!! My mom moved from Portugal when she was 9 and this covers everything she has told us!!!

    • profile image

      hi 

      3 years ago

      great facts

    • profile image

      geography pro 

      3 years ago

      Another interesting fact about Portugal:

      Portugal holds the record for the shortest reign: Prince Luis Filipe reigned for less than 10 minutes!!!

    • profile image

      Francisco 

      3 years ago

      Portugal was not only the first country to abolish slavery but also the first country to START slavery!!

      (I'm Portuguese)

    • profile image

      *Can't tell safety reasons* 

      3 years ago

      This is very useful for my project about Portugal! I'm glad I checked this out!!!

    • profile image

      Margaridab 

      3 years ago

      Good article with interesting facts

    • profile image

      Debbie 

      3 years ago

      Sorry but Portugal did not host the World cup in 1998. The country host was France.

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Alex 

      3 years ago

      Just so you now, "principe" and "são tomé" are the same country: São Tomé and Principe

    • Thomasjames1992 profile image

      Thomas James 

      5 years ago from London

      Great hub love Portugal!

    • profile image

      hi 

      5 years ago

      this is cool

    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 

      5 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      My husbands family is Portugese, so I really love the sound and passion of the Fado. Good article

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We are planning to visit this winter so I am really absorbing all of these info.

    • profile image

      Mikey Cabral 

      5 years ago

      We are "KNOWN" where it matters.

      Long live Portugal ........ :)

    • bibliopola profile image

      Işın Tuzcular 

      5 years ago from Istanbul

      I plan to see Lisbon, an interesting lens for me :)

    • profile image

      emanuela 

      5 years ago

      portuguese is alsospoken in Angola and Mozambique

    • profile image

      Alexandra Condesso 

      5 years ago

      Loved this article about my beautiful country. You are all most welcome in here!

    • profile image

      Ralnados girlfriend 

      5 years ago

      I love u

    • profile image

      Ralonados girlfriend 

      5 years ago

      I love u honey xxox

    • profile image

      grace 

      6 years ago

      have a great week

    • profile image

      Maria Soares 

      6 years ago

      Awesome information that the majority doesn't know about it.

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Carrie Lee Night 

      6 years ago from Northeast United States

      Interesting hub! :) Voted up. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Have a great week.

    • profile image

      Phyllis Padinha 

      6 years ago

      I'm Portuguese and proud. Awesome hub. Will visit portugal next year, I can't wait❤️

    • profile image

      gus 

      6 years ago

      Congratulations on your great work I'm glad you did it so people can see that Portugal doesn't end at Ronaldo's backyard there is so much more to see and also that portuguese is a language (no, we don't Speak spanish or french in Portugal) also Portugal its not in south America nor a french or Spanish province, yes we are a nation and we are in europe. Just as a curiosity portuguese were in Australia about 200 years earlier than captain Cook

    • profile image

      Pedro Vieira 

      6 years ago

      Awesome list! For the readers planning to travel to Portugal, I recommend using services like www.WiserGo.com which let's you design several travel packages with Portuguese agents, select your favorite, they will book everything and provide customer support while you're in Portugal. Since they are local agents, they know the ins-and-outs of everything and you get to experience the country as a local!

    • profile image

      Susan Morrison 

      6 years ago

      My family is from Madeira, I would love to see more written about this part of Portugal , I feel left out? The island in my mind is a combo of old world Europe and the flora of Hawaii. What do you think.

    • profile image

      Prince Albert 

      6 years ago

      what happened to having the UK's back in WWII?

    • profile image

      Constance Houck 

      6 years ago

      Lived in Portugal over three years and still learned a couple of new factoids. Such an amazing tiny little country, for a visit or a new life.

    • Ken Westmoreland profile image

      Ken Westmoreland 

      6 years ago from Taunton, Somerset

      Portugal is a very nice country, I agree, but you have got your facts mixed up regarding countries where Portuguese is an official language. São Tomé e Príncipe is one country, not two, while Portuguese is an official language in East Timor. It is still an official language in Macau, which is a special administrative region of China. Equatorial Guinea only recently adopted it as one of its official languages - despite being a former Spanish colony, there are people there who speak a Portuguese creole.

      Many words from Portuguese have entered different languages, for example, the words for 'table' in Swahili and Indonesian, 'meza' and 'meja', both come from 'meja' in Portuguese. This is a legacy of when Portuguese was a trade language - Portugal needs to rediscover that intrepid and entrepreneurial spirit again!

      The Treaty of Windsor is an anachronism - logically, Britain should have helped defend Portugal when Goa was taken over by India, but it didn't.

    • profile image

      Dennis 

      6 years ago

      Most Americans do not know mainland Portuguese, only people from Azores. Different cultures, like Spanish and Mexican.

    • profile image

      Oscar Pena 

      6 years ago

      Love your article . I am portuguese living in America but my country and my people are always close to my heart . Thank you .

    • Vivian-tmt-hnp profile image

      Vivian-tmt-hnp 

      6 years ago from USA.

      8:41am Friday 16 August 2013

      Dear Global-Chica,

      Thank for your nice article. I can learn more about Portugal when reading yours.

      Vivian

    • Tashaonthetown profile image

      Natasha Pelati 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      I had a brief stay in Portugal and wish I had this info then. Ver inteesting hub and will keep the info handy for the next trip!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      6 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Awesome article on a country I know quite well.

      But they should have won the 2004 European Cup. I still can't believe Greece got away with it.

      And I love their Portuguese Transmontano Mastiff, a real livestock guardian dog that can be a great protector against wolf predation in the USA and Canada.

    • profile image

      Barbara 

      6 years ago

      we were there in 2008 for our fiftieth wedding anniversary. I must say it is a beautiful country. We would go back if God willing. when we go back to Italy B-)

    • jenslibra profile image

      Jennifer Vasquez 

      6 years ago from Long Beach, CA

      I wasn't aware of many of these facts. Your photos of the country are beautiful. My favorite is that the oldest bookstore is in Portugal! Thanks for sharing these.

    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 

      6 years ago from Mumbai

      Awesome Hub! Most of these facts are new to me. Thank you for expanding my horizons on Portuguese. Learnt many surprising facts.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 

      6 years ago from Japan

      Very interesting, I've been to Portugal before , but never knew most of these facts.

    • Global-Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna 

      6 years ago from New York, NY

      Vidalia, how exciting that you're returning to Portugal this summer. I'm glad that you enjoyed this article :) I haven't written a similar one about the Azores but thanks for the idea. Have a great time in Portugal!

    • profile image

      Vidalia 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the article. Returning to st Michaels, Lisbon and algarve this summer. Do you have a similar list of facts for the azorean islands?

    • PacificWorldDMC profile image

      Pacific World DMC & PCO 

      7 years ago from Barcelona

      Interesting Hub !

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      Love that language portuguese. I must visit Portugal when I am I'm in Europe.

    • profile image

      Pete 

      7 years ago

      "Gabriel 13 months ago

      Slavery was also invented by the Portuguese the once dominated the world, and lost everything with on show off ."

      LOL and ur saying that the egypcians made their piramides with part-time employees :) and the roman gladiators were doing wrestling on their free time for some bucks because the romans didn't had a health care :D

      LOL dude Portugal didn't invent slavery...lololol

    • profile image

      darrien 

      7 years ago

      im not going to porchugal anymore because it cost over 1,000000 $:-(

    • profile image

      darrienfrost7 

      7 years ago

      hi thanks that was a really fancy thing you posted i hope i meet you when i go to portugal

    • profile image

      Veronika 

      7 years ago

      Ok, soy...It is not Bulgaria, it is san Marino, 301...Bulgaria is the next...

    • profile image

      Veronika 

      7 years ago

      Portugal is not oldest country in Europe. Bulgaria is the oldest country, since 681 maybe even earlier...Bulgaria haven´t the same borders, no but Bulgaria was much bigger than now...Same name, same language...

      Ok, Portugal mabe is the oldest country in Europe with the same borders...but not THE OLDEST!

    • profile image

      oceansider 

      7 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your article about Portugal....it was well done, with lots of good information......There is an elderly couple that goes to my church, and they are Portugese......I don't know where they are from in Portugal. I'll tell them that I read your article & if they have a computer, I will email them the link to this hub so they can read it.

      Thanks for sharing this.

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 

      7 years ago from Austin, TX

      I thought only Portugal and Brazil are the countries with Portuguese-speaking people. Thanks for sharing your info, I've learned a lot of surprising discoveries about the country. :)

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Thanks for your interesting facts on Portugal, a lovely country I have visited on a number of occasions. We drove over that long long bridge in Lisbon! Some length!Voted and sharing on!:-)

    • profile image

      Eduardo Xavier 

      7 years ago

      Portugal have the oldest border in Europe for that fact it is the Oldest country in Europe.

      Portugal is the oldest country because never changed his borders or name since 1297 "tratado de alcanizes".

      Denmark is the oldest but it has change his borders.

    • profile image

      João Nunes 

      7 years ago

      Portugal is an interesting country but ...

      1. Portugal is not the oldest country in Europe.

      Bulgaria, France, Denmark, England, Hungary and San Marino

      are older ! They existed as kingdoms well before Portugal !

      The Portuguese borders date from 1297, not from 1139.

      2. Portugal abolished slavery in 1761 only in mainland Portugal and portuguese India. Slavery continued to exist in portuguese africa until

      1869.

    • Global-Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna 

      8 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks so much, free-seotools. Portugal is amazing, I agree!

    • free-seotools profile image

      free-seotools 

      8 years ago from Portugal

      We love Portugal. Great hub.

    • profile image

      Gabriel 

      8 years ago

      Slavery was also invented by the Portuguese the once dominated the world, and lost everything with on show off .

    • Global-Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna 

      8 years ago from New York, NY

      CClitgirl: thanks and I'm happy you found these facts informative. I hope you'll get a chance to travel to this beautiful country!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      8 years ago from Western NC

      Wow! What great facts here! I learned so much about Portugal. Now, I want to go! :)

    • Global-Chica profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna 

      8 years ago from New York, NY

      Thanks, ithabise! I'm glad that you enjoyed my collection of facts about Portugal.

    • ithabise profile image

      Michael S 

      8 years ago from Danville, VA

      Very interesting! I enjoy geography very much and this adds much to my knowledge--thank you!

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